Anti-Submarine Warfare has once again risen high on the agendas of NATO’s maritime forces. Ahead of the inaugural Anti-Submarine Warfare conference, Defence IQ have compiled an exclusive market report detailing ongoing ASW and submarine programmes from nations around the world
24 - 26 June, 2019
Hilton Wembley, London, United Kingdom


Anti Submarine Warfare 2019 Market Report

Foreword from Stephen Philpott

US and European officials have warned repeatedly in recent years(1) that more sophisticated and more active Russian submarines pose a growing threat, and NATO countries are taking steps to counter that perceived challenge.

Adm. James Foggo, Head of US Navy Forces in Europe and Africa, has said that a "fourth battle of the Atlantic”(2) — which comes after the naval warfare of World War I, World War II, and the Cold War — is already being fought, and it ranges far beyond the waters of the Atlantic.

While some intelligence estimates from the Cold war indicate that current Russian submarine activity is still well below peaks(3) reached during that time, US and European officials have been expressing concern(4) for the past several years.

"The Russian Federation Navy has continued to pump rubbles into the undersea domain, and they have a very effective submarine force," according to Adm. Foggo.

That force's readiness has also improved to the point where the Russian Navy can keep some of them deployed most of the time.

US Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson told lawmakers earlier this year(4) that Moscow has "really stepped on the gas," with its submarines, "both in technology and in the amount of time that they're spending abroad."

Russia's newest class of submarines, Yasen-class submarines, have drawn comparisons(5) to the US Navy's best submarines, and Moscow matches that technical progress with the geographic advantage of being able to deploy from bases on the Barents, Baltic, and Black seas.

Some of Russia's Kilo-class submarines, which are newer, more advanced(6) diesel-electric boats, are able to launch Kalibr cruise missiles from those areas and reach "any of the capitals of Europe," Foggo said. But, he added, the best way to track these boats is not just with other submarines.

While Foggo was a planner at the Pentagon and said Adm. Jonathan Greenert, then the Navy's Chief of Operations, “would often say ‘the best way to find another submarine is not necessarily with another submarine. That's like a needle in a haystack’.” A more effective approach draws on the submarine, surface, and air assets to put a full-court press on rival submarines.

Anti-submarine warfare "is a combined-arms operation, and let no one forget that," Foggo added, saying that it involved all the US Navy Europe and Africa's assets as well as those of the 6th Fleet, which is responsible for the eastern half of the Atlantic from the Arctic to the Horn of Africa.

NATO navies, and many other navies around the world, have focused their attention(7) on anti-submarine-warfare capabilities in recent years, adding improved technology and spending more time practising. One sign of that focus has been the growing market for sonobuoys(8), which are used to hunt targets underwater.

In early 2017, US Navy ships deployed in the eastern Mediterranean engaged in the difficult task tracking the Krasnodar(9), a Russian attack submarine whose noise-reducing capability earned it the nickname ‘The Black Hole’. Sailors in the USS George H.W. Bush carrier strike group were tasked with following the elusive Krasnodar, despite having little formal training in anti-submarine operations.

"It is an indication of the changing dynamic in the world that a skill set, maybe we didn't spend a lot of time on in the last 15 years, is coming back," Capt. Jim McCall, Commander of the air wing on the USS Bush related.

Cmdr. Edward Fossati, commander of the Bush strike group's sub-hunting helicopters, said improved tracking abilities had helped keep things even with Russian submarines' improved ability to avoid detection.

But the Navy has had to keep pace in what Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer has called(10) "a constant foot race.”

Navy surface forces let their focus on ASW "wane considerably" in the years after the Cold War, Bryan Clark, a senior fellow at the Centre for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, said earlier this year.

"Up until a few years ago, their ASW systems were not modernised to deal with new Russian and Chinese submarines," said Clark, a former submariner, but the Navy has added new, improved equipment, like processors and towed arrays, that have increased their capabilities.

"Surface ships are able to get back into the ASW business," Clark stated.

COMSUBNATO is NATO’s only submarine operating authority, responsible for operational tasking of all assigned submarines.

ASW is an important capability for NATO’s maritime component. As submarines evolve, so must the techniques to find them. These tactics, techniques and procedures are tested and practiced in exercises like Dynamic Manta.

There is a clear recognition from the Alliance that ASW is critical, proof being that so many NATO navies assigned assets to last year’s edition of Dynamic Manta.

NATO needs to increase its ASW capabilities, bolstering forces at sea in general and in anti-submarine warfare efforts in particular, such as looking at sensors, sonar, weapons control, quieting technologies, undersea drones, and communications systems to help its submarines maintain their edge. That requires investments in state-of-the-art systems and technologies.

Dedicated ASW units are towed array systems are and very expensive pieces of equipment. What NATO may need to do is to be more innovative, looking at clever and inexpensive ways and systems such as use unmanned and remotely operated robotics such as UAVs and UUVs among others.

Market Report Taster


The latest iteration of Lockheed Martin’s MK-48 heavyweight torpedo, the Mod 7 Common Broadband Advanced Sonar System (CBASS) is jointly developed with the Royal Australian Navy. It is optimised for both blue water and littoral operations and has advanced counter-measure capabilities. Key elements of the upgrade include a broadband analogue sonar receiver and an improved digital guidance and control system. The increased sonar bandwidth improves targeting and tracking capabilities against high-performance submarine and surface targets with low acoustic signatures.

Australia is also boosting its submarine fleet with... [download here to continue reading]


Thales will replace two Dutch and two Belgian M-class frigates with... [download here to read rest of the report]


Irving Shipbuilding and BAE Systems – Lockheed Martin have been awarded a contract by the Canadian government to build future surface combatants for the country’s Navy, in a contract valued at CA$56 billion (US$60 billion) as part of the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy. These 15 new ships will... [download here to continue reading]


An industrial team consisting of Naval Group, the OCCAR FREMM Programme Division, the French Navy and the French Procurement Agency have...[download here to continue reading]


German firms Diehl Defence and Thyssen-Krupp Marine Systems (TKMS) are jointly developing the Interactive Defence and Attack System for... [download here to continue reading]


India is the most full spectrum ASW navy in the region. The sub-surface level of these ASW capabilities includes an ongoing order for six ‘Scorpene’ class submarines from Naval Group, known in India as the ‘Kalvari’ class. The first of class, INS Kalvari, was commissioned in December 2017. The Indian Navy (IN) should receive the last of the class by 2027/28.

The Indian Navy has also launched... [download here to continue reading]


In its 2024 Defence Strategic Plan, the Indonesian government indicated that the Indonesian Navy would be equipped with... [download here to continue reading]

Take a look at the full report to learn about:

  • Key ASW Programmes and Requirements across other countries including: Australia, Belgium, France, India, Italy, Malaysia, Russia, Singapore and Turkey
  • Diehl Defence and Thyssen-Krupp Marine Systems’ joint development of the Interactive Defence and Attack System for Submarines (IDAS) for the German Navy
  • The Indonesian Navy’s procurement of ten diesel-electric attack submarines
  • The Royal Navy’s SPEARFISH upgrade 
  • Lockheed Martin’s upgrade of the US Navy’s AN/BLQ-10 electronic warfare system for the service’s fast-attack submarines
  • Global ASW Helicopter Holdings

Download full report here.

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